Monday, September 30, 2013

What's for dessert? More humble pie!


My dearest familia y amigos, 

Hola! I hope everything is going well with you. Wow! What a week. Week 8 as a missionary. Let me tell you all about it!

I had a baptism this week! Her name is "I" and she's is 81 years old and converted from Judaism. She's from Peru but speaks great English. We didn't teach her much because another ward was teaching her, but then they realized she lived in our ward, so we got her two weeks before her baptism. She was SO excited to be baptized. She reminds me a lot of Grandma, so it's really easy to love her. The service was great--the Spirit was really strong. We're teaching another great girl, "G", who is in her early 20s. She is golden! She's going to be baptized on the 18th of this month. I'm really excited for her!

This week I've been really striving to work with exact obedience. It's been hard, especially with the times to be in/out of bed and studying. But I was working hard to be obedient, and let me tell you about the blessings I saw from it! We went to contact a lot of our referrals that we've been trying to get a hold of but have failed. I had faith that we were going to be able to talk to them. Out of the 5 or 6 we visited, we talked to all of them except 1! What a miracle! I am now determined to be 100% obedient. 

Let me tell you about an experience that I had this week. I had my first drop/bible basher (people who try to disprove everything we teach with specific verses in the bible, even though we share bible verses with them that support what we say). He was a really nice man and I could tell that he was concerned for our souls. He basically told us that we should reconsider our faith so we weren't following some wrong ideas. He shared Galatians 1:8 with us (you should look at it. It made my jaw drop). We aren't visiting him anymore, but it wasn't a bad feeling meeting. It just made me have a greater desire to find the people that are ready to hear the gospel. I want to work hard and diligently!

Guess where I ate this week with a member? In N Out! I would send a picture, but I don't have my camera cord... And guess what! There are Jamba Juices in my area. Mmmmm. Oh ya.

So we've been working mostly with LA (less actives) these past few weeks. An idea! When having the missionaries over for dinner, you should always try to have a nonmember there. Let the missionaries know so they can plan for it, but I would love it if people did that for us. Our ward (to answer Mom's questions) is interesting. I don't know if they have separate Sunday schools, but they have separate gospel essential classes. The RS meet together for announcements and then they split. We usually are with the English because of our investigators (all of them are English speaking). I didn't know our ward in Maryland had a French branch dissolved into it!

So Bakersfield has nothing in it. I can't believe that I'm in the biggest city in my mission. This is SUPER rural. I'm already missing the green and moisture. But I am loving the low 80 high 70 weather we have. It's great. Doesn't feel like October, but it's really nice. Oh! Funny story. We have mountains around us, but the pollution is so bad, you can't see them very well. I didn't know they were there until my companion said something. I was so surprised! Good ol pollution.

So two more things on my list (I plan out everything I want to say so I don't waste my time). I want to talk about how my boundaries changed yesterday. Us and the Spanish elders went through our areas and set up boundaries for how to split it. Unfortunately the area they took (because they live in it) has basically all the people we have been working with, including most of the single Spanish sisters. I LOVE the single Spanish sisters. It broke my heart that we wouldn't be able to see them anymore. But.. this is sort of an answer to a prayer.  So I've been praying for charity and it was good to see that I was blessed with charity. Also, I have a concern. All the Spanish people we have been working with live in that area, so I'm afraid that I won't be able to improve much on my Spanish while I'm here. But I'm supposed to be here, so I have faith that it will be okay!

Speaking of learning, real quick! I've been thinking a lot about repentance this week. Growing up, it seemed that repentance was viewed as such a bad thing, but in reality, it's a joyous thing! How great is it that we have the opportunity to be forgiven of the mistakes we make in our lives, no matter how big or small. 

I love you all! I hope I can hear from you soon! I love you guys a ton! Hope you got my letters!

Hermana Sami Lau

Monday, September 23, 2013

Is she Chinese or Something?

September 23, 2013

OH MY GOODNESS. I have so much to write! So little time. Here it goes!

I'M IN BAKERSFIELD!!!! What is this nonsense???? But first, my story begins in Mexico. I got a blessing the night before I left, and it was amazing to hear things that were specifically for me. It's brought me a lot of comfort this week, especially when I was leaving into an unknown world. The Priesthood is awesome, and all worthy men are incredibly blessed to have it, it such a great way to serve people.

But we left for the bus at 2:30 in the morning on Monday. After I called you guys in Phoenix, I had just started walking back when two elders ran to me, grabbed my bags and we ran to the plane. It was... an adventure. But I got on the plane with 26 other new missionaries who were headed here, and we headed to Bakersfield!

When we walked out to baggage claim, I was met with a flash of a camera and my mission president! President Wilson is AWESOME. I love him. All worries and concerns I had about having one I didn't get along with melted. He's so great. When we were standing around the one baggage claim in Bakersfield, he came up to me and asked me if I was majoring in Civil Engineering. I was shocked he knew! He kept telling me that he knew I must be a hard worker from that major. I thought it was pretty funny. In my interview with him, he told me Spanish will come. Which is good. He also told me that I won't probably be ever on a bike. He has 5 daughters and he's very protective over the sisters (we text the Zone Leaders every night telling we are home). But we have a car. Even though I won't get a bike, I have an awesome ward, so I was pretty happy about that!

But when we got off the plane, there was nothing here. I mean nothing. But a love just overwhelmed me. I know this is where I'm supposed to be, and I'm SO excited to be here. We have sisters and elders in the ward. And guess what? I serve Spanish and English! I do both! It's really interesting, this stake doesn't have a Spanish branch, so it was dissolved into this ward. The Elders do the Spanish through the entire stake, and we do it just in our ward boundaries. We teach mainly in English, which is nice, I just hope I can learn Spanish sometime soon! It's the 2nd best ward ever, right behind the Millard Ward. The members and ward leadership are great. They help us a ton and feed us SO much. I'm going to gain SO much weight here. I'm so scared! We eat with English and Spanish families. They're both great, but the Spanish give you SO much food. I always waddle out of their homes. It's crazy. So maybe I won't eat lunch ever so I can balance out this intake of food? Good idea? I thought so ;)

Oh! But thank you for everyone who send me letters! That was one of the first thing I heard off the plane: "Oh, you're Sis.Lau? You have SO much mail!" It was great. And THANK YOU so much for all the prayers I received this week! I can tell how much they blessed me this week. I was thinking that this week hasn't been too bad, and I realized that it was because I have a ton of people praying for me. So thank you for your prayers. Prayers do miracles. I need to learn how to have better prayers, because there are so many blessing HF wants to bless us with, we just need to be open with him and ask him.

My companion is pretty cool. She's pretty quiet and goes home the transfer before Steven.  I had to laugh with Steven's email about the greenies having so much energy: she asked me to "follow her example" because I was going to fast. She's really nice. I figured I will be with her this next transfer and then be here for a little while after. Unless I get transferred in 5 weeks. Who knows!

But it's amazing how much people look for blessings when they interact with us. I can see it when they feed us. And invite us in their home. It's awesome to see the power and authority of my calling and how it helps people's life. Life is sad and hard. But it's amazing to see how the gospel blesses lives and really makes us happy! 

We have a baptism this week. I'll write more about it next week. But it's been cool to see how the Spirit teaches. Me and my companion have the same ideas about scriptures or talks to share. It's pretty cool!

Well, I need to write my mission president. I love you all, and I can't wait to write you more next week!! 

Love you!
Hermana Sami Lau

PS: everyone asks me where my name is from. It's really funny.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One More Day

September 15, 2013

Hey family!!! Wow. Does time fly! My 40+ days here in Mexico are finished. It´s been great, I´m going to miss the CCM so much, but I´m excited to get into the field! I can´t believe there are 24 missionaries from our stake and 9 from our ward!!! Wow. How cool is that! The church is true.

So I´ll let you know what happened these last few days. Quite more than I thought would have happened! On Friday, we had in field orientation. It helped me get excited for going to CA, but it also made me nervous. I began to be really stressed, but I did some push-ups, said a prayer and now I´m getting excited. I have more of a vision of what the field will be like. Transfers are on Tuesdays in my mission (I made friends with an elder who lives in my mission and he worked closely with the missionaries before he left). So I´ll be there less than a day before I´m sent out to an area. CRAZY. I worked out some more statistics and according to my calculations, each transfer is 7.7% of my mission (a transfer is every 6 weeks). I do the time I have been in the CCM 11 more times. It makes it sound like a lot less time and makes me want to treasure every moment rather than thinking "I don´t end till Feb. 2015." So I´m ready to work hard, I think. I know my Spanish is horrible, so that scares me. But I have trust that the Lord will help me!

On Friday the coolest thing happened this week. During in field orientation, they challenged us to ask God again about the truths of the gospel, and we could go into the field with that renewed testimony. Well, I did it, and I felt nothing. I asked for an answer soon. When I was teaching my last lesson on Saturday afternoon, I felt prompted to share a scripture. I looked in the index for it, found the one I thought I was looking for, and when I went to the page, 2 verses jumped out at me. It was Moroni 7:16-17. It was about how all good things come from God and it was an answer to my prayers. I was so excited! Super cool moment: it´s what I needed to hear and what the investigator needed to hear. The Spirit is amazing!

Tomorrow is Mexico´s Independence Day. On Saturday we went to a celebration for it. What a great way to leave the CCM!!! I haven´t laughed and screamed that much in SUCH a long time. I made recordings of it for you, and I´ll send it to you once I get to the states. But we sang their national anthem, watched an awesome video about Mexico and how it gained independence, and watched Mexican dancers. They were alumni of the high school here, and they were all still in high school. It was a fiesta. I´ll send pictures once I get my cords. But I´ve decided to become more Mexican. IT´s a fiesta every day, and they´re always happy. Mission goal throw down. But the attack began really early in the morning on the 16th, so the party starts tonight and I´ll get to drive through it this morning. We´re going to the gym at 10:30 and 11 we're going to yell. I´m not sure if that´s tradition, but I´m excited!

Let me tell you about something I learned in Relief Society. It was taught by Hermana Pratt (her and President Pratt say hello Michelle and Matt. In fact, I gave the closing prayer, and she announced me as "Hermana Lau, the niece of my visiting teaching companion in Hong Kong." Everyone was oohing and aahing. I laughed. So they say hello!). She talked about patterns in the gospel. She talked about the pattern of the Garden of Eden, where we enter a new place/situation, and it´s the lone and dreary world at first. Then we become comfortable with it, it becomes a garden of eden, and then we're given a new challenge and thrown out again. We talked about Nephi and Laman, but the really cool one was in John 15. It talked about the parable for the vineyard. How we´re like the branches, and the Lord will trim us back to have us grow better fruit and become more spiritual and better. I don´t have time to go into it, but I loved it and we went more into detail.

Well, I must go. I love you all! Now that I´m in the states, you should send me letters. Especially this week, since I know it´s going to be extremely hard for me. But I´m looking forward with faith, praying for a great trainer, and praying for a biking area. I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike...

Best of luck this week! You´ll hear from me on the 23rd. I´ll call you tomorrow from Mexico or Phoenix!

Love you all. God bless!!!!
Hermana Sami Lau

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What do you want.... Bacon, beans, or freedom?

September 12, 2013

Hello from Mexico! So let me quickly explain the subject line. We were talking about the difference between Canada, Mexico, and the US and how some Mexicans consider us North Americans and some consider themselves North Americans too. Well, one of the elders said this and I thought it was funny. So there you go!

But let me answer a few questions first: I get to go to the temple every other week. The sessions are totally in Spanish, so it´s interesting to see how much I understand. My understanding of what is being said improves each time! Today was my last time going. It´s a gorgeous place.  Thanks for the letters!

I´m leaving on Monday!!!! 3 more days. AHHHH! It´s exciting, but frightening at the same time. Even though I know a lot of Spanish, I still have a hard time understanding things. I´m really glad I´m going to the US. I can´t imagine going to Russia or anything like that. Props to Steven. And I´m so excited to be going back to the states! The USA is the best. I love Mexico, but I´m ready for Californian sun! Speaking of the US, I can't believe 9/11 was 12 years ago! I still remember it vividly. Especially since we lived in DC at the time. Thanks to all the men and women who serve, served, or will serve our country!

Mexico´s independence day celebration starts Sunday night. We´re having a big celebration on Saturday night. I´ll let you know about it on Sunday! I´ll send an email on Sunday, since I won´t have Pday next week. So write me!

I keep forgetting to tell you this, but I gave a talk on my 3rd Sunday here! It was about repentance, and I did the whole thing basically entirely in Spanish. My grammar was AWFUL, but the Spirit was there, especially after a Holland quote I shared. And bam! The Spirit was super strong. I love Holland--he brings the fire.

So for studying this week, I mostly study the Book of Mormon (bom) or Preach My Gospel (pmg). Can I just tell you how much I LOVE PMG?  I encourage everyone to read it. I read it when I was in HS and I´m so glad I did. Even though not everything applied to me at that point, I still got a lot out of reading it. Especially young men and women who want to serve missions. Maybe you can challenge the Priests to read it Dad? I´m glad I have such a strong love for the book when I came here, and I don´t have to waste time figuring out what´s inside and how to use it. My favorite section is Christlike attributes--especially with my challenges with my companion. It´s great. And the BoM! So we study for an hour every morning, and sometimes I read conference talks instead of the BoM. I decided that no matter what, I´m reading the BoM every day, cause I can tell the days I don´t read it (even though I´m still having scripture study). It totally applies to our day. Cool insight from this week: the Gadianton robbers. Most people don´t have to worry about having problems with that right? WRONG. For most of us, the Gadianton robbers are like worldly temptations that distract us from following the example of Christ. Our army against them? Doing the Standard Mormon Answers (prayer, scripture study, attending church) with desire. Act, don´t be acted upon. And cool insight from the BoM this week: Helaman 10:4-5. It´s my goal to feel like that by the end of my mission. Maybe it´ll give you some motitivation!

So we had the district ahead of us leave this week. They were good friends. They helped me a ton at the beginning remember that I choose to be happy. I´m so glad I began to learn that lesson during school. Thank you to all my BYU friends that helped me realize how to work hard, but still enjoy life at the same time. You guys influenced my life SO much for the better. And I "am eternally grateful." I still have a ways to go, but I had a great start at school.

It´s been a great experience to grow so much during my time here. I´m glad I´ve already had the opportunity to help people come unto Christ. Me and her talked about how we can both rely on the Lord more, so we set goals and made plans (just as PMG says). And to all who ever made fun of my list making skills: they work miracles on the mission! So there. You guys were just jealous at my skills! Haha, no. But seriously, I´m grateful that I know how to plan. It´s helped a ton on my mission with goals. SMART goals have some merit to them (sorry all MPS students who have to suffer those goal making sessions. It actually works).

So I only have a few minutes left, but here´s some stats that I figured out this week. Each month is 5.5% of my mission. Each week is 1.3%. Each day is .2%. With those numbers in mind, in makes it seem like the work is going a lot faster. I´m almost 7% done with my mission. And that´s a crazy thought.

But I love you all! I hope you all write me. I love hearing from my immediate family, but I would love to hear from other people in the outside world. I can promise you a handwritten response!!!! :)

I love you! I know this gospel is true, and that the Savior can help us through anything. He´s helped me through the craziest, hardest 6 weeks of my life, and I´ve never been happier. Remember to smile! Life is a great adventure we have, let´s not waste too much time being upset with things we can´t control!

Peace out. Word (or in Spanish, palabra).

Hermana Sami Lau

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It´s been a hard day´s night, and I´ve been working like a dog!

September 5, 2013

Hello my dear family and friends! I hope life is great in the fantastic Estados Unidos. Speaking of letters, don´t send me any more in Mexico. Send them to California!
Something crazy this week. We watched an old devotional from Novemeber 2011 on Sunday with Elder Christofferson. Guess who I saw in the audience? Blake Dallon! He was sitting in the 3rd row of the choir. I laughed. I hope he´s enjoying the end of his mission too!

Espanol. It´s great. I love it. I don´t know it very well or speak it very well, but I´m beginning to love it as a language. I love the different way you express things. It implies different things and brings such a different meaning to what you are reading. It´s fantastic! I made a new goal for my language study these next 10 days: treat my Spanish study like it was Chem 105 or Math 113 (all my BYU friends will know waht that means). But I´m going to study it constantly, speak Spanglish as much as I can, and jsut enjoy every minute of being immersed in it. I´m so glad I know how to study (people in my district are struggling to focus on just studying). Huge blessing in my life to know how to hit the books hard! Oh! And I figured by the time I leave here, I´ll have the grammar understanding of Spanish 3, but a ton more vocab. (in case you were wondering how much I can learn in 6 weeks).

So a few other things. I caught a bug earlier this week (its gone, thank goodness) and we had to miss a lot of class becuase of it. My companion was so sweet and loving when I was sick. One thing I´m learning a lot from this experience is having charity and patience. I thought I had a good amount of both, but I´m realizing I didn´t. So I continually am studying and working on those two! Check out 1 Cor. 13 and Moroni 7. They´re fantastic about charity. Oh! Another goal I have. Be positive! I guess my district has been one of the most depressed/stressed districts my teachers have ever seen, so we had a "Come to Jesus" talk on Sunday, and we all have been so much happier since then! Hooray for communication!

Another cool thing I learned this week was about the Holy Ghost. My teacher, Hna. Olsen, told us to pause for about 10 seconds while were teaching to listen to the Spirit instead of saying the first thing that comes to our heads. Boy, is it hard. But I´ve been trying to do that, and my lessons are SO much better. The Spirit directs what I need to hear in order to bring the person closer to Christ. It´s crazy what 10 seconds of pausing can do! It feels awkward at times, but I´m trying to ,listen more to the Spirit as I teach instead of relying on my awesome teaching skills I inheritied form swim lessons. Cause swim lessons and the gospel go hand in hand. Going along with this, I want to be the kind of missionary who can work great with ward members. Can people email me what makes you trust a missionary with teaching the gospel to your friends? I really want to know and your advice would be invaluable!!! Please, and thank you.

Oh my goodness! I need to tell you all about one of the main ideas I learned this week. It´s about M&M´s: members and missionaries. Members are SO important in missionary work. I can´t stress that enough! I´m still only in training, but we talked a lot about it this week. It started when we had a "member" (a missionary pretending to be a member) come with us on one of our visits. It helps the investigator understand things so much more with someone who has a normal life there to bear testimony of truths you are teaching. The Spirit is there a lot more, the investigator feels so much more comfortable, and it just makes the whole lessons about 1000X better. En serio! But I encourage ALL of you: go out with the missionaries! Befriend new converts and investigators! If you feel like you can´t do missionary work, just start by being an investigator or new convert´s friend. It makes a whole world of difference and blessings will be poured out on your head. Reach Ch. 13 of PMG to learn more about how to do missionary work. It recommends that each family make their own ward mission plan.

I HAVE 10 DAYS LEFT IN THE CCM. I´ve been here for a month. The time has flown by! I still can´t believe that it´s gone by so fast. It´s really exciting (and also kinda nervewracking) to think that in 10 days from now, I´ll be back in the greatest country of them all in the wonderful state of California teaching people about Jesus Christ in SPANISH! It´s so crazy. I love the CCM and the Spirit here, but I´m ready to go do some real work with some real people! As I´m getting ready to head out, I´m trying to decide some new goals based on what I have learned about missionary work here. Here´s what I´m thinking:
1) Be 110% obedient. Perfect obedience, just like the 2000 stripling warriors (or 2000 jovenes). I´m realizing how hard that is. We had a talk from one of our teachers about obedience and since then, I´ve been thinking about what I can do better to be more obedient. And wow! Do I have a lot to work on. Like getting to class for personal study on time! (Being on time? A cinch for me, right?) Or being in bed at 10:30 (that´s always been easy for me!) or other CCM rules. So I think that is one thing I´m going to work on while I´m here.
2) Be a PMG missionary. Where to start? By reading PMG cover to cover. I read it for Personal Progress and loved it then, but as a missionary, I love it even more. That book is SO great. I´ve been studying sections and chapters out of it the entire time I´ve been here, but I´m going to read and study the rest of the sections and continue to during my mission.
3) Sacrifice more. Elder Andersen said "you sacrifice for what you love, and you love what you sacrifice for." I want to sacrifice everything I can for the Lord these next 17 months. It´s hard to figure out what else to sacrifice. It´s going to take some prayer to figure that one out. But I´m excited to give myself more to the Lord to be even more in tune to His will for me!

So before I go, let me share one spiritual insight from this week. I was deeply studying Enos this week. I realized that to keep unconverted people righteous, you need to continually stir them up to remember the Lord through hastening, teaching basic doctrines, etc. That´s why apostles, bishops, stake presdients, auxillary leaders, etc. always talk about the importance of being converted to the Lord. We don´t want to the people who it is easy to fall away if we aren´t constantly reminded of doing the basics (going to church, reading scriptures, prayer, etc).

Well, I love you! I miss you a ton, and wish I could be there for all the adventures at home, but I know this is what I´m suppose to do. This is the hardest thing I´ve done, but I wouldn´t trade it for anything in the world. Anything. Have fun at school, band, BYU, other universities, and enjoy the end of the summer weather! You are all in my thoughts and prayers everyday!

Love you!
 Hermana Lau